Beat it, pop music haters

By Bethany Knipp

I have something to admit.

I need to come out and say that I like pop music, which is ironically not a popular thing to admit. For people like me, the admission is spoken with inflection full of shame. But I’m ashamed no more. Pretending to be cool and pretentious just takes too much energy.

Liking something, no matter what it is, shouldn’t be deemed a “guilty pleasure.” If you like it, you like it and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I have no idea why I can’t really favor another genre over pop. I have tried so hard to like alternative music, which I’ve learned is the cool genre with its nonsensical, interpretive lyrics and rhythm.

Fortunately, I’m a millennial, exposed to everything and picking out what I enjoy from each genre. It’s just that nothing supersedes pop music for me. And here’s the thing: When I’m talking about pop, I mean oldschool popular music from the 50s, 60s and 70s, mostly by artists who are dead — and mostly soul and Motown music. For example, I love The Temptations, which now has only one original member.

The group’s main husky, soulful voice from “Ain’t too Proud to Beg” was David Ruffin and he died a long, long time ago.

Here’s the thing about oldies pop — it’s usually upbeat with a repetitive rhythm, and I enjoy that. It puts me in a good mood and helps me daydream about happy scenarios I want to have. I don’t have to really interpret it. Call me simple, but it’s nice.

But here’s the really cool thing. Soul and Motown hits nearly always have great vocalists singing happy-sounding songs about not happy things. Some of the time it’s desperate as evidenced in the title and lyrics of “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” How lovely to give a crummy situation a silver lining by disguising it in joyous beats.

That kind of predictable music is just nice to listen to. I mentioned good vocalists. Good voices are my top priority. Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Otis Redding are my favorites (all long dead, by the way).

When I mention this to my peers, however, it seems few people have heard their amazing vocal ranges.

And I know he’s an incredible lyricist or something, but no awkward, scratchy-sounding Bob Dylan for me.

Anyway, I have my suspicions about where my unpopular love for popular oldies came from.

Oldies were what my family listened to in the car. It was fun and for the most part, appropriate for kids to listen to. And even if it wasn’t, all of Marvin Gaye’s and Al Green’s innuendo went over my head. It was all seemingly appropriate for the lack of curse words.

Rock was too much for my mom, and Snoop Dogg and Tupac were not family- friendly options, unfortunately.

I was exposed to people who sounded like they were pouring all of their being into their music, hence “soul.”

There was something about it, and I never really expanded my tastes to truly love another genre.

My other influences came from the popular music that the show choir and marching band at Belleville High School performed during its high time in the mid-90s to early 2000s. It was a time when 80 percent of students at that 3A school were in band, about 180 kids, and a time when there were many talented young singers and instrumentalists that the music director used to show choir’s full advantage.

You were a cool if you were in band and choir. I had never even heard of the term “band geek” until I moved and went to high school in Nebraska where band was not cool.

I’m definitely biased about those BHS golden years because my brothers were in high school at that time and were both in everything musical the school had to offer.

But regardless of family involvement, it seemed that director Carroll Couture’s goal for every performance was to excite the audience with music that was “fun” like in the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”

When I moved from Belleville and went to high school in Nebraska, I was on the field performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” my freshman year at games. Gershwin is great but good ol’ BHS was playing Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” to get football spectators excited.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t really change which genres of music I enjoy. It’s just not possible with nurture’s strong, consistent popular music influences on me both at home and at school.

That, and pop music is just catchy.

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